Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fanaticism of Olympic proportions

Myself and the roomies at couples Olympics, the night of the opening ceremonies, sans our partners (From left: me-France, Nicole-China, Shyann-USA, and Stephanie-Canada)

When I started a blog, William told me that I would run out of things to write about quickly. I would like to say in my defense that I will ALWAYS have things to say, it's just that I'm always quite concerned about sending out silly or sappy sentimental dribble into the blogosphere which prevents me from writing about a lot of stuff that I would potentially like to say. However, tonight is the last night of the Olympics-an event that always flies by after a year and a half of waiting, and I couldn't let the whole thing go by with out saying a little something about how deeply crazy I am about the Olympics.
Everyone has things they look forward to. Summer, March Madness, Saturday morning, and LOST (cue creepy, screechy music) are a few of the things on mine (and probably everyone else's) list. But when it comes to the Olympics, it's a whole different level of obsession.
I think most of my love comes from my mother-a woman who mainly ignores any and all sports, but watches any Olympic event with rapt enthusiasm and interest. My earliest Olympic memory dates back to 1994. Only four years old, and up way past my bed time, my mom let me stay curled up in her lap to watch the entire women's figure skating event and I still remember Oksana Baiul...wearing her hideous and infamous swan outfit, win the gold medal in figure skating. Even at that young age, I remember feeling an appreciation for the Olympics-for the worldwide unity, as well as the in-house comfort they bring during their two week stay. I know you read this Mom-so shout out to you and the Olympic fervor you've passed on to me. I've now had three Olympics pass by since I moved away from home, and nothing quite brings about the homesickness like the Olympics and their infamous theme song.
Speaking of the theme song, for those who don't know much about Bellingham, you should probably be informed that it is only an hour away from Vancouver, which means that during these Olympics, besides feeling the my usual fervor for team USA, I am also now daily bombarded by Canadian tv and radio stations that first inform me it is 9 degrees Celsius (which means NOTHING TO ME) and also that Canada has to beat America in hockey or else the world will end (So basically we are all lucky that USA lost today)! Some people I know have come to the conclusion that the Canadian channels bring us better coverage of the Olympics because it's much less commercialized and biased and blah blah. However, Canada will always lose in this argument because-get this- they have no Olympic theme song! They should probably get one of those-and probably just use ours because it's the best- ASAP! What is a huge global event doing without a proper theme song? Are all other countries similarly suffering under such a travesty? This reminds me that I should probably write a blog sometime about how much I love John Williams and how he's on my "5 famous people in history you would invite to dinner" list...

But getting back on task... ever since the Nagano Olympics in 1998, I have made it a habit to save cool pictures and articles from all the Olympics and which I then put in a box and never look at again. It's kind of ridiculous how much of this crap makes up my memory boxes in storage at home. However, on my bulletin board of favorite things (which includes a picture of a diet coke, the tag from my first pair of 7s, and my friendship bracelet from Zambia) I have the "GO WORLD" visa poster from the last summer Olympics, along with one of Morgan Freeman's little speeches about how everyone roots for athletes not because of the country they come from, but because they are human, and when they succeed, we feel their triumph and succeed with them. This may be the exact cheesy sentiment that I say I want to avoid, but I do truly feel that's exactly why the Olympics are so much more (in my opinion of course) exciting and emotional than any other sporting event out there. Of course almost every different event is interesting and intense to watch in it's own way, but it's really those heart-wrenching stories of athletes like Joannie Rochette or Alexandre Bilodeau that makes every Olympics so incredibly memorable and worth watching. Right now at the currently-happening closing ceremonies, people from all over the world are jam packed into one stadium celebrating all the Olympic athlete's hard-work together. The Olympics are ending again, I'm sure before the night is over I will cry a little bit because I always do, but really, there are only 897 days until the 2012 games in London...and yes, I definitely will be counting.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pine trees for palm trees

After two weeks of being obsessively nervous, I finally left for my interview extravaganza at University of Southern California this past Sunday. Vying for a position in their very competitive Ph.D. in Clinical Science program (Think 6 open spots out of 300 applicants), I felt stunned and pretty much just plain lucky about my interview invite. Not to mention the opportunity for a free two day trip to enjoy LA's lovely weather.
After a short but luxurious flight on Virgin America (if you have never flown with them, then seriously you should. Coach class entails huge leather seats, free wifi, crazy but comforting blue lighting? as well as your own tv screen complete with remote control and free video games. I played "Anagrama" for far too long...but that's educational right?) I arrived at LAX and was picked up by the graduate student that graciously offered to let me stay with her. I was so proud of my passenger-phobia self for not immediately curling up in a ball on the front seat while she began to magically find spaces to slide into in order to change lanes. Since she lived in the middle of downtown she equipped me with her LA tour books-which were, of course, in French (I barely met one applicant or graduate student that didn't speak a second language fluently)-and sent me to go explore on my own. After finding the Disney Concert Music Hall and not much else, I began to try and find my way back to her studio, while attempting to learn French directions at the same time. Failing at both tasks, I found myself wandering around, alone, at dark, lost, in LA, being followed by a crazy homeless man and hoping the scary man with the evil tattoos that was also near by would actually turn out to be really nice and end up saving me when my self-muttering follower eventually attacked me. Luckily I found my right street to proceed on just in time and then sprinted all the way home. Apparently I'm not as street smart as I think!
Walt Disney Music Hall
On Monday morning I met the 22 other applicants before we began our day long agenda of interviews. I was astonished to look around me and realize that besides the four lonely boy applicants, everyone else was super beautiful, friendly, and wearing gorgeous suits. As awful as it sounds...where were the weaknesses in my competition to help me feel better about myself? After making myself feel completely inadequate and insecure (always the best tactic when trying to project confidence) I stepped into my four different interviews and was relieved to find the whole experience less stress inducing then I thought. Because I'm not even sure if I'm ready to move to LA or commit to a 6 year program that is self-professed to be quite the pressure cooker, all I really wanted to walk away from these interviews with was a feeling that I didn't come across as a total fool. Thanks to my very intense preparation, which included reading every article written by my potential advisor in the past 10 years, I feel that my biggest goal was accomplished.
Despite having a generally good time on my trip, words can't express how great I felt when I finally arrived back at the airport to go home, changed out of my suit and pointy high heels into jeans and a sweatshirt. Pressure finally lifted. (Not so cool was my indulgement in Burger King that quickly resulted in a two day food poisoning episode...but that's another story...and at least I won't be tempted by fast food for a very long time.)
After touching down in Seatown and picking up my car in the rain (of course) I felt so happy to be home and so in love with Seattle as I drove through it on my way back to Bellingham. It will be a couple weeks until I find out if I made the USC cut, but even if I don't...I don't foresee being too bummed. I just have no desire to trade in pine trees and rain for palm trees and 6 years without seasons. I have become a northwest girl through and through, and I will have to think long and hard before leaving what I now feel is home.

On a recent hike with William at Whatcom Falls Park. Gorgeous.